Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un apologised Friday over the killing of a South Korea official near the rivals’ disputed sea boundary. Kim Jong Un said he’s ‘very sorry’ about the incident he called unexpected and unfortunate, South Korean officials said.
It’s extremely unusual for a North Korean leader to apologise to South Korea on any issue. Kim’s move will likely de-escalate tensions between the Koreas. It is expected to ease anti-North sentiments in South Korea over the man’s death as well as mounting criticism of its liberal President Moon Jae-in.
“Comrade Kim Jong Un, the State Affairs Commission chairman, feels very sorry to give big disappointment to President Moon Jae-in and South Korean citizens because an unexpected, unfortunate incident happened at a time when South Korea grapples with the coronavirus pandemic,” Moon adviser Suh Hoon cited the North Korean message as saying.
South Korea had accused North Korea Thursday of fatally shooting one of its public servants who was likely trying to defect and burning his body after finding him on a floating object in North Korean waters Tuesday. South Korean officials condemned North Korea for what they called an ‘atrocious act’ and pressed it punish those responsible.
According to the North Korean message, the troops first fired blanks after the man found in the North’s waters refused to answer other than saying he’s from South Korea a couple of times. Then, as he made moves to flee, the North Korean troops fired 10 rounds. When they came near the floating object, they only found lots of blood but no sign of him.
The troops determined he was dead and burned the floating object in line with anti-coronavirus rules, according to the North Korean message read by Suh.
Senior South Korean military officer Ahn Young Ho told a parliamentary committee meeting Wednesday that North Korea killed the man likely because of elevated anti-coronavirus measures that involve ‘indiscriminate shooting’ at anyone approaching its borders illegally.